Detroit at Buffalo (2/26/11)

The Red Wings started their five game road trip tonight in Buffalo. Joey MacDonald was in net for the Wings and the Sabres started Ryan Miller. Filppula and Modano both returned to the lineup tonight so that’s excellent news for the Wings. Mursak was sent back to Grand Rapids and unfortunately Drew Miller was a healthy scratch. He had been expecting to compete against his brother and his parents and other family members were on hand to watch the game live so it’s too bad he wasn’t in the lineup. Rafalski was out with back spasms but he’ll be joining the team for the rest of the road trip. They’ll return to Detroit to pick him up and drop off Franzen so he can be with his wife who’s expecting to deliver their first child soon. Salei’s wife is also about to deliver a baby but they live near L.A. so when the Wings land there he’ll be heading right out to join her.

It started out like a home game for Detroit in the sense that they were badly outplayed in the first period and spotted the Sabres two goals. The Sabres outshot the Wings 15 to 7 in the first period. Their first goal was a rare one by defenseman Sekera. It was a hell of a shot though. He roofed a backhander perfectly over MacDonald’s shoulder. Their second goal was a wrister by Grier. So the Wings ended the first period down two to nothing. Having just played the night before, the Sabres seemed more warmed up than tired.

In the second period the Red Wings got back to their game. They started playing much better defensively and scored a power play goal. Datsyuk shot from the slot area and the rebound came right back to him. He snapped it back at the net before Miller could get himself reset. That brought the Wings to within one.

In the third period the Sabres just collapsed back to their own end and played a purely defensive game. They had no fore check and were content to just dump the puck back into the Red Wings’ end whenever they got it. That meant that Detroit had lots of time in Buffalo’s z0ne and were able to keep up the pressure. That’s a dangerous thing to allow the Red Wings but Ryan Miller was playing very well and the Wings weren’t able to beat him. Until almost the end, that is. In the final minute the Wings pulled Joey MacDonald and Hudler came out in his place. Hudler jumped over the boards and charged straight for the net. Just as he reached the slot area a rebound bounced off Miller right to him and he one-timed it into the net for the game tying goal. The first goal of Hudler’s NHL career was against Miller in Buffalo so it was fitting that he scored one tonight and at a critical time, too!

The final minute passed with no goals and the game went to overtime. There were some great saves at both ends but no goals in the OT so it went to the shootout. First was Stafford and MacDonald stopped him. Then Datsyuk went and hit the water bottle with a beautiful backhand. Vanek was next and MacDonald stopped him as well. So, Hudler came up next with the game on his stick. He moved in on Miller, made a few dekes and then released the same backhand shot that Datsyuk had scored with. The puck hit the crossbar and bounced off Miller’s back and into the net for the game winner. Hudler was mobbed by the team and the Wings checked off a win to start their road trip.

It was a great comeback for the Wings and a great game for Hudler. After being outshot in the first period, the Wings outshot the Sabres in the second and third periods 12 to 7 and 16 to 7, respectively. They really need to get these slow starts under control though because this won’t cut it in the playoffs.

This 3-2 win brings us to:
82 points

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